Monday, February 27, 2012

Bullying and Bras - What You Can Do


This Wednesday is Pink Shirt Day, an awareness day that raises awareness about bullying in schools, in the workplace, at home and on the Internet and more importantly, how to stop it. On Friday I attended the CKNW fund-raiser in aid of Pink Shirt Day (proceeds raised went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Vancouver) because I know what it's like to be bullied and especially as a busty teen.

One Amazing Parent Can Save You From Bullies
As an adult of course I know that my bullies were insecure girls lashing out but at the time it was very difficult. I was very fortunate that I had a fabulous Mum who knew how to buoy my spirits and stop me from believing the hurtful things being said about me. That was the key, keeping me from buying into the dreadful things being said about my body/hair/behaviour. In later life I found out she hoisted her own formidable bust round to the parents' homes and confronted them about their children's behaviour - she's a force to be reckoned with!

What Moms AND Dads Can Do
The role of parents in supporting girls who are being bullied is absolutely critical and it stems from not being a bully yourself. I know this sounds harsh but too many women have stories of being made to feel a freak by their own families. If you are a small-busted woman whose teenage daughter develops very quickly or substantially I understand that it is foreign territory. The best thing you can do is find someone who has the knowledge to get, and keep, your daughter in the right bras. A great fitter will know that you need to fit teenagers with sensitivity and education. By instilling a sense of confidence in a teen then her boobs belong to her and not the bullies or testosterone driven boys. As the father of a well-developed teen it is vital that you don't make her feel ashamed of her figure. Insist upon age appropriate clothing, of course, but there's a difference between dressing appropriately and being made to feel you have to hide your shape. Some men will always judge her for her shape, don't be the first one to do it. 

The Long-term Effects of Bullying
The lasting effects of being bullied about having large breasts can be a self-loathing or embarrassment about your body. I speak to women every single week who want to hide their boobs or make them appear much smaller. This is rarely a style thing and almost always stems from a lack of confidence in their appearance. It breaks my heart that they feel their body is 'wrong' or 'bad'. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with being busty, it doesn't say anything about your personality, it's just genetics!

I know it doesn't help that Society equates large breasts with promiscuity or lack of intelligence. Through my 20s I was constantly battling the stereotype of blonde and big-boobed (my favourite was an editor at The Times newspaper saying "I mistook you for blonde but really you're a business woman.") But I do know that you can defy and stand against the stereotypes as long as you believe in who you are.


Investing in our Daughters and Ourselves
Last week I wrote a response to a blog where the author was berating her breasts for being too big as a teen, then too small in her 20s, then too uneven, then too deflated. She used the word hate several times and it just frustrated the life out of me that we're bullying our own bodies. One reader left the most beautiful response, she wrote:

"I hope that I can help my daughter, by buying her great bras that fit beautifully at all stages of her development, by talking to her about what it means to have breasts and be sexualized. By being and recognizing that I am an attractive and confident person, despite my breasts and because of them. It's a complicated relationship but a worthy one to get right."

In one sentence she summed up the key to 'breast happiness'. "I am an attractive and confident person, despite my breasts and because of them." Our breasts don't define our personalities but they're also nothing to be ashamed of. This is the message we need to instill in our daughters and in ourselves. It's never too late to shed the layer of skin that we allowed other people to define and see yourself in a whole new light.

I hope that if you or your child is being bullied you start talking about it to someone you trust. Bullies thrive on inaction. By exposing their behaviour they quickly have no where left to hide. Most of all I hope you don't allow a bully to define how you or your daughter feel about yourself xx


  1. Thanks ladies. It barely scratches the surface of how I feel about this subject but I hope it communicates that it's never to early to start instilling body-confidence. xx

  2. So well put! And what a great mother. I also appreciated your response to the "stupid boobs" post. Even if the author denies hating her breasts and was simply employing a narrative device by reciting "stupid boobs" at the end of each paragraph, the cumulative effect was one of despising her body, and it was sad.

    1. Thanks for reading Darlene. You can feel the insecurities coming through the 'Stupid Boobs' blog and I understand where they come from but at some point you have to break the cycle. Like you say the cumulative effect was very negative and sad.

  3. I'm the commenter to whom you have referred - I'm so glad that sentiment resonated with you. It's something I take so seriously. I've thought, since the day my daughter was born, that I would do what I can to make her feel happy about her body. I think it's wonderful that there are so many resources now for women of all breast sizes. I so wish it had been that way when I was an adolescent. Thank you for this great post.

    1. I was so moved by your response. It's never too early to consider how the way we treat ourselves impacts on our daughters. It is inspirational that you have your daughter's adult happiness in mind during her childhood, she's a lucky girl! xx

  4. It's so easy for us to fall into the trap of berating and bullying OURSELVES when it comes to our personal body image. Being a "hard to fit" for most of my life from teen to adult I know that I personally went through a "stupid boobs" (stupid long legs, stupid long arms, stupid short-waisted-ness, stupid wide shoulders, etc etc etc) phase, and now - finally as an adult I realize that what I was really rebelling against was "stupid clothing and bra mass manufacturers".

    If only the companies that we buy our undergarments and clothing from would stop trying to fit us all into one single body shape and making those of us outside of that image feel marginalized then perhaps we'd all be able to start loving our bodies more. (Hi there clothing manufacters, women come in lots of shapes and sizes - just sayin')

    I'm finally beginning to be at that stage now, and turning 30 this year. I wish I'd had the self-realization a little earlier, but I will hope to support any young women in my life to know that their bodies are beautiful, no matter whether they fit into some company's idea of size or not.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to leave your comments Tea. You're absolutely right that the clothing industry should fit bodies not the other way around. Your turning 30 pledge is fabulous. Life's too short to wish you were something else when who you are is wonderful!

      There are some great companies changing the face of clothing for busty women, and are two of my favourites.

      Thanks again for sharing your experience xx

  5. Love this post. Breasts are such a huge part of our identity, and can be such a negative or positive force in our life depending on many factors. It's so important to love ourselves, and our parts. It makes a big difference.

    Claire, you write beautifully, from the heart. I'm so glad you are in the business of helping women's relationships with their breasts improve. You are a perfect fit for this!

    1. Thank you lady, that's so kind of you! I am so fortunate that I love what I do and think a lot about boob happniess!! xx

  6. Such an excellent post, Claire! Coming from such a different upbringing/parental attitude toward my large breasts, it's really inspirational and helpful to read about how your mom boosted your self-confidence and how parents can really make a positive impact early on. What a great message!

    1. I must admit that you came to my mind when writing this Sarah. The smallest things can make the biggest (and longest) impact when said during the critical formative years of a girl's life. Sending you big hugs from Vancouver xx

  7. oh my god, when i read your post couldn't help but cry.

    i have been so ashamed of my breasts for so long im 28 now, and i still carry the hurt i felt as a child. you are so lucky to have a mom like yours, and i have to say the lady and her comment about her daughter was beautiful, this is the first time i red anything like this or found a website like this its so nice to see this.

    to be honest i feel so unworthy and apart of it because of my bra size, never having the right fit, i even have chafing under my breast because i cant find a right size, but here is the sad thing, i have done this for years, i wouldnt buy a bra until i lose weight, talk about punishing my self!

    i cant believe i feel unworthy just because of a size of a clothe that is a tool for me to use and not the other way around!
    i know reading your blog will build up the confidence i never had about my breast, having an abusive dad didnt help, i still feel like i have to hide them. but no more :) today is a starting day for me
    no more waiting to lose weight to buy the perfect bra, but a bra that will serve me.

    i love your blog and love u from your writings, thank u this post was jumping with emotions that i felt.

    take care and keep up this site we neeeeed it!

    with love

    mary anne

    1. Dearest Mary Anne - I have received many comments and email but few have moved me as much as your response here. I am so sorry that you experienced the lasting trauma of being made to feel ashamed of your breasts. Since beginning Butterfly Collection I have been amazed at how many women are carrying around someone else's unkind and hurtful baggage and viewing themselves through that lens. All too often that baggage comes from a parent.

      Your words "today is a starting day, no more waiting to lose weight to buy the perfect bra" are an inspiration! Your body loves you today, it loved you yesterday and it can't wait for you to love it back, exactly as it is. As I say in the blog "It's never too late to shed the layer of skin that we allowed other people to define and see yourself in a whole new light."

      I am so happy that my experiences and words reached you and that you know you are absolutely NOT ALONE! Busty is fabulous in this space so you're definitely amongst friends. One of the big things you'll realize as you read more is that the retail sector has let you down and that we need more band sizes and cup sizes to be readily available. If you need any advice about bra fitting then I recommend our free bra size consultation

      I hope wherever you are you can feel the giant hug I'm sending you. Know that you are the person your body is waiting for and no one deserves it more than you xx